Ambridge Council during their April 10, 2018 meeting / photo provided courtesy Ambridge Connection

Ambridge Borough officials are delaying the release of public documents that could help answer lingering questions about an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment made by female officers against the town’s police chief.

The Ambridge Police Department Bargaining Unit distributed a press release on Jan. 14 announcing officers in the municipality had issued a unanimous vote of no-confidence in the town’s council members, manager, solicitor, and suspended chief of police.

The release revealed that two female officers in the department had submitted sexual harassment complaints against Chief James Mann in early 2018.

In April 2018, BeaverCountian.com reported that more than a dozen Ambridge officers went to Pennsylvania State Police with wide-ranging allegations against Mann. The borough responded by hiring Corporate Security and Investigation (CSI) to investigate the department.

In their Jan. 2019 release, the officers allege they were provided information that CSI’s report about Mann was completed last July and “that the report is some eighty pages in length and recommends Mann’s termination.”

The personnel investigation into Mann has been a repeated subject of inquiry by members of the public during borough council meetings since that time, with Solicitor Richard Start insisting the report has not been completed. Start has refused to provide any additional information to citizens of the community.

No disciplinary action has been taken against Mann in response to the allegations of sexual harassment against him. He remains on an unpaid administrative leave following his Aug. 23 arrest by the Pennsylvania State Police on unrelated charges.

Attorney Stephen Colafella, who is representing Mann, has said his client will not be providing public comment about the sexual harassment allegations.

In an attempt to find answers for the citizens of Ambridge, BeaverCountian.com submitted a formal open records request to the borough on Feb. 1 in accordance with provisions of the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law.

Although the borough could have invoked one of several innumerate exceptions in the law to refuse the report’s release, if it exists, the request instead sought to determine if such a report has been paid for with tax dollars. A request was made for copies of invoices submitted to the borough for payment by Start, his law firm, and CSI Corporate Security and Investigations.

Invoices often detail stages of completion for a work product, and could reveal whether a final deliverable — the investigative report — has been provided to the municipality.

By statute, the borough had five business days to respond to the request. Borough Manager Joseph Kauer, who also serves as the town’s open records officer, waited the entirety of those five days before issuing a letter to BeaverCountian.com on Feb. 8 invoking an additional 30 day delay — the maximum extension of time allowed by law.

Kauer’s letter stated that a legal review was needed to determine whether some of the records are subject to public release, and that some of the records may be redacted before being viewed by the public.

BeaverCountian.com will see the public’s rights under state transparency laws are upheld, and if necessary will take further action to gain access to the public records.

Ambridge Borough Council’s next public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the borough building.

See Also:

In-Depth: Attorney Says She Went To State Police About Ambridge’s Chief And Solicitor

John Paul
John Paul is the founder of the Beaver Countian. He reports full-time for the site, specializing in investigative journalism with an emphasis on public corruption.

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HappyjackAccordingtomeI WON DEE-WONEmerson Von WhittleschlongPucko Recent comment authors
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Pucko
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Pucko

The most crooked town in beaver county. Mann has to much on some of the council members for them to do anything. I hope it all comes out and there is a major house cleaning. They claim to not have raised taxes fo 14 years but added fees and raised others with the money going to the general fund even when the ordinance states it is to go into a special fund. JP I can show you a lot of their stuff if you ever want to investigate

I WON DEE-WON
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I WON DEE-WON

Sorry. Ambridge is the 2nd most corrupt town in Beaver County. Aliquippa is the MOST CORRUPT town in Beaver County! BAR NONE!!!

Happyjack
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Happyjack

Ambridge and ALIQUIPPA both in the top 25 worst cities in PA! What do you expect?

Emerson Von Whittleschlong
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Emerson Von Whittleschlong

You’re one smart cookie John Paul!

Accordingtome
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Accordingtome

Guess what, Mr. Kauer, let me help you out here and save you some trouble. JP outsmarted you on this one so it would behoove you to just hand it over. Save yourself the embarrassment and expense of having to go to court just to have the judge tell you to hand it over. Honestly, 30 days, 45 days or 100 extra days aren’t going to be enough for you to think up some reason to avoid the inevitable. ‘Cause just between you and me, I don’t think you’re all that bright to begin with and you’re way out of your league on this one. Just saying.